To make a mark in a profession where one parent has excelled in proves to be a great load of expectations for any young man. For Sanjay Dutt, the level of expectations was doubly loaded as the only son of Sunil Dutt, the dashing, heartbreaking actor of Hindi films of the 60s and the 70s, and Nargis Dutt, one of the finest actresses seen on the Hindi film screen.
Sanjay Dutt's debut in films was, to say the least, one of the most anticipated ones in Hindi film history. As a strapping young 19 year old, Sanjay was pitchforked into limelight, when his debut film "Rocky" (1981) was announced. This slightly spoilt brat was maybe, in hindsight, not prepared for the sudden adulation that followed. Added to this complex situation was the abrupt illness of his mother. Nargis was the emotional bridge between the uneasy teenage son and the concerned father.
"Rocky", directed by his father, was a relative hit at the box office, but both father and son were really not able to savour its success. Mrs. Nargis Dutt passed away, after fighting a grim battle with cancer. The emotional upheaval tossed the Dutt household into an emotional frenzy. Sanjay Dutt was at the first crossroad of his life. His arrival at the Hindi film scene had been heralded as the coming of a new star whilst at the same time, he had lost the most important person in his life. With his father overcome with his own grief. Sanjay went astray in trying to deal with this immense personal loss. A topsy turvy fast life of partying, drugs, booze followed as a result of which his promising career as an actor went for a toss.
Despite such super hit films like "Vidhaata" (1982, Dir. Subhash Ghai), Sanjay was on a roller coaster ride of self destruction. Being heavily doped out, when Sanjay lost the bearings of his career, his father and family stepped in to try and provide the emotional anchor that was badly needed.
After a complete rehabilitation programme, Sanjay Dutt returned to his acting vocation with a vengeance with "Naam" (1986, Dir. Mahesh Bhatt). His career graph just took off and he quickly re established himself as the great brown hope of the Hindi film industry. The double whammy of "Saajan" (1991, Dir. Lawrence D'Souza) and "Sadak" (1991, Dir. Mahesh Bhatt) catapulted him in the league of superstars. These two films also enabled him to change his image from the next angry young man to an action hero terminology which has germinated from the Amitabh Bachchan phenomena to a versatile star actor.
His portrayal of the lame, sacrificing poet in "Saajan", especially, was a revelation to the industry pundits who were not inclined to admit to Sanjay's ability to act. On the personal front too, things were falling in place. With his romance and eventual marriage, to the promising actress, Richa Sharma, and the birth of his daughter, Trishala things had never seemed better for him.
However, tragedy struck again. Richa died young with cancer striking again in the Dutt household. To overcome this tragedy, Sanjay, a far more matured person now, attacked his work with a vendetta, acting with his usual aplomb and gusto, in successful films like “Khalnayak” (1994, Dir. Subhash Ghai).
But unwarranted trouble was just waiting to strike again. The Mumbai bomb blasts are one of the worst urban terrorist acts of the modern world history. The whole film industry was in for a rude shock, whilst dealing with this calamity, when they opened their morning newspapers to discover that Sanjay Dutt had been implicated as one of the participants in this inhumane wanton act. A lot has been written, and analysed, about Sanjay's role (or the lack of) in the blasts, but the final word would be to indicate that truth finally prevails and he was absolved of the allegation. The time Sanjay spent in jail, in his own often used words, were the worst of his life. Without the emotional anchor of his family, and his girlfriend, Rhea Pillai (and later his wife), it was doubtful whether the actor would bounce back.
But bounce back he did in the late 90s with Ram Gopal Varma's 'Daud' and Tanuja Chandra's 'Dushman' where he played a blind former army man. Despite the movie being a woman centric revenge drama, Sanjay Dutt's role came to be highly appreciated by viewers. After a couple of more relatively successful films, Dutt rocked the Hindi film industry in Mahesh Manjrekar's 'Vaastav'. With his stark portrayal of Raghu, an innocent young man who gets embroiled in a world of crime and debauchery after a single unexpected incident, Sanjay Dutt catapulted to major success and even went on to win the Filmfare best Actor award in 1999.
After that, there was no looking back for the actor. After a spate of commercially successful movies in first few years of the new millennium, Sanjay Dutt appeared in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 2003 blockbuster 'Munnabhai M.B.B.S', a role that was initially offered to Shah Rukh Khan. The comic caper, revolving around a lovable gangster and his humorous adventures after enrolling in medical school to impress his parents had the audience splitting their sides with laughter. The role earned Sanjay his Best Comedian award that year and the Dutt dude went on to repeat his performance in the much awaited 2006 sequel 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' which again won him the Best Actor award.
The blockbuster sequel Lage Raho MunnaBhai released in late 2006, coinciding with the start of the Mumbai bombing's trial where the nation became transfixed with Dutt's court on-goings which saw him found not guilty of terrorism related acts but jailed on two occasions between 2006-2007 for short periods, as he was found guilty under the possesion of arms act despite this he continued appearing in successes like, Dhamaal (2007), Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007), and All The Best: Fun Begins (2009), Double Dhamaal (2011) and most recently Agneepath which earned him major critical acclaim once again. He was seen in a few unsuccessful films such as Chatur Singh Two Star, Department, Rascals among others.
In 2012, Sanjay teamed up with Ajay Devgn and Sonakshi Sinha for Son Of Sardaar, which proved to be a super hit at the box office. His recent release Policegiri, failed to pull the audience at the box office. The Supreme Court of India, found 'Munna Bhai' of Bollywood guilty for illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 assault riffle. The actor is now behind bars, Supreme Court sentenced him 5 years of imprisonment.